Ease of preparation: Complex
Yield: 1 cake (12 servings)
2 cups (480 ml) sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) light corn syrup
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) cream of tartar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) peppermint extract
Red gel paste
White gel paste food colouring
1 ¼ cup (300 ml) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ½ cups (600 ml) sugar
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
4 cups (960 ml) cake flour
1 tablespoon (15 ml) baking powder
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
1 ¼ cup (300 ml) buttermilk
Red gel paste food colouring
1 ½ cup butter (360 ml), room temperature
6 cups (1.4 l) icing sugar
3 tablespoons (45 ml) buttermilk
2 teaspoons (10 ml) peppermint extract
6 tablespoons (90 ml) candy cane crumbs
Metal spatula or bench scraper
Food-safe latex gloves
Thin stretchy gloves
Let’s get baking!
To make candy cake, preheat oven to 200 F (95 C). Generously grease 2 baking sheets and a metal spatula or bench scraper.
In a saucepan over high heat, mix together sugar, corn syrup, and water. Continue stirring until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring and let it come to 300 F (150 C).
Add the cream of tartar and mix in by swirling the pot. Remove pan from the heat and allow to settle and to release bubbles.
Add peppermint oil and stir in. Pour half of the mixture into a different pot.
Add white food colouring to one pot and mix in.
Add the red food colouring to the remaining mixture and mix in. Put the pot with the red mixture into the oven.
Use the greased bench scraper to spread the white mixture out onto the baking sheet. Put on the thin stretchy gloves and pull the food-safe latex gloves over top. (This will protect your hands from the heat of the candy.) As soon as the candy is cool enough to work with, pick it up and start to stretch it out using both hands. Pull it into a long rope, then fold it back on itself. Repeat until the candy takes on a pearlized hue and becomes a bit harder to work with. When the candy is still bendy, pull it out into a 2-inch (5 cm) thick rope.
Take the red mixture out of the oven and repeat. Pull it out just a few times, as you don’t want the colour to get too light.
When the candy is still bendy but has cooled off quite a bite, pull it out into a 2-inch (5 cm) thick rope. Cut it into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces.
Place the white rope back in the oven for 30 seconds or until soft enough to work with. Take it out of the oven and cut it into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces.
Take 2 of the white pieces and 2 of the red pieces and flatten them. Stack them on top of one another. Roll them out into a thin log so that the colours and swirled. Cut them into 6-inch (15 cm) pieces, and bend the tops into hook shapes. Allow them to harden.
To make the cake, preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease four 8-inch (20 cm) cake pans.
Cream together butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla and beat in.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Gradually mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Gradually mix in the buttermilk. Add desired amount of red gel paste and fold in until colour is uniform.
Pour batter into greased cake pans. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Let cool, then remove from cake pans.
To make the peppermint buttercream icing, cream together butter and sugar. Add buttermilk and mix in. Add candy cane crumbs and stir to incorporate.
To assemble, level cakes. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on a layer. Place another layer on top and spread with buttercream. Repeat until all layers are used up. Spread remaining buttercream over entire cake.
Place candy canes into top of cake and sprinkle candy cane crumbs on top. Place sparklers on top.